Humans have always used animals for food. But views about slaughter have changed over the years. For archaic communities it was a ritual during which the animal was symbolically asked whether it agreed to donate its body. The situation changed after the agricultural revolution, which took place 10–12,000 years ago. Human populations began to grow and, along with that, the demand for food. Animal husbandry gradually came to involve the mass destruction of animals.
Public slaughterhouses emerged in the nineteenth century. The invention of antibiotics made industrial poultry and animal farms possible. Finally, the genetics revolution made it possible to create new animal breeds and to effect serious changes to animal bodies.
Lithuanian photographers have been interested in animal slaughter since the 1960s. Unsettling Soviet-era and later photographs reveal human and animal powerlessness. They also raise the increasingly urgent dilemmas around eating meat. Religious symbols appearing in paintings of slaughter remind us of ancient rituals – of times when humans valued and respected an animal’s life and sacrifice.